De Bruyne strikes after Salah stuns as Liverpool and Manchester City draw | premier league
It was a worthy goal to win any game. Only not this one. When Mohamed Salah took possession of Liverpool in the inner right channel in the 76th minute, there didn’t seem to be too much going on.
But Salah is in rare form and, having secured the position over Rodri, the way he rolled his crampons over the top of the ball to trick Bernardo Silva was ballet. Salah was not finished. In the box, he went one way and then the other to wind Aymeric Laporte in the tightest spaces before scoring a finish in the lower corner.
As Liverpool support has completely lost its grip on the intrigue, a penny for Manchester City’s thoughts. They had just canceled Sadio Mané’s opening goal in the 59th minute with one from the excellent Phil Foden and, having exercised almost total control over the first half, they might have thought it wouldn’t be their day. .
But City was not finished. They refused to wallow and what shone when they found a second equalizer was their championing courage as much as their abilities. The goal was created by Foden and, when he pulled out from the left and Kyle Walker missed his kick, Kevin De Bruyne’s shot from the edge of the box deflected Joel Matip to beat Alisson in the Liverpool goal.
It was a match of the highest quality, a thriller between surely the top two teams in England and it almost dealt a late blow to both ends.
First, Rodri spread in a saving block to deny Fabinho after Ederson missed a cross from Salah – the goal was gaping – then Raheem Sterling, replacing the usual taunts, led a City-only break without conviction. He passed to Gabriel Jesus when he could have gone on and shot. Jesus’ effort was blocked.
It had been impossible to see this match as anything other than a title regardless of the date and not just because it had served as such for the previous two seasons. When Liverpool beat City 3-1 here in November 2019, it sparked the belief that they could end their long wait for the league and, when City won it 4-1 last February, they knew that they were also on the right track.
Firm and quick conclusions were more difficult to draw on this occasion, although the draw favored City. What was certain was that there was a lot to unravel, taking into account Pep Guardiola’s false Nine experience with Jack Grealish, which didn’t work out; the brilliance of Foden and Silva and where City could be with a more assured finish.
From Liverpool’s perspective, Alisson helped keep them in the game before Salah brought in his razor sharp edge. He provided Mané’s assist – his third of the Premier League season – while the goal was his sixth, making him the competition’s top scorer.
Foden tormented James Milner for much of the occasion and City may be upset that Liverpool right-back, who went on to replace injured Trent Alexander-Arnold, remained on the pitch until he was replaced at the 78th minute.
When Foden outstripped him just after half an hour in a rush to the surface, Milner caught him and the winger passed over. The contact was probably just outside the box so no penalty but there was some puzzlement when the referee, Paul Tierney, didn’t blow his whistle even for a free kick. As the last defender, Milner would have been on rocky ground.
Milner was warned for bringing Foden back before half-time and Guardiola was glowing when the veteran knocked down Silva in the 74th minute. Guardiola waved an imaginary card without any emotion. Tierney didn’t wield a real one, although he reserved the furious Guardiola soon after.
Guardiola didn’t care that Grealish had hardly ever played as a false nine and certainly not for City before.
He just rolled the dice – it was pure Pep – and, although Britain’s most expensive player in history struggled to adjust in the first half, City didn’t. All around Grealish, the players in sky blue won their duels, they were faster in body and mind and they created the chances of having taken a good lead in the break.
City’s great luck in the first half followed incredible skill from Silva, who executed a 360-degree spin that on several occasions saw him pass each of Liverpool’s three midfielders. Silva then returned inside Fabinho and center-half Virgil van Dijk before playing for Foden. Alisson made a life-saving head-to-head save.
City had plenty of other openings before the break, the choice being De Bruyne’s header on a cross from Foden which he sent unnecessarily and Foden thwarted by Alisson after recovering a long ball from Ederson.
The change at Liverpool on the second half restart was remarkable. It was as if a switch had been flipped, energy pouring out of them and, in turn, the crowd, who felt a change of momentum. Jürgen Klopp’s players took higher starting positions and they were just more powerful.
Diogo Jota extended Ederson and Liverpool scored when Salah beat João Cancelo before ushering in Mané, whose acceleration was too strong for Rúben Dias. Guardiola traded Grealish for Sterling and Jesus created the equalizer, skating right to left before playing Foden, whose low finish bristled with power and precision. The late swing drama took its breath away.